WARNING OVER CITY’S ‘HOUSING APARTHEID’
ASYLUM SEEKERS FACE BEING KICKED OUT ON TO STREETS AFTER LOSING LEGAL BATTLE
This is a truly sad day for human rights
ASYLUM seekers in Glasgow are now under threat of being thrown onto the streets after a landmark legal appeal ruled in favour of a home office contractor.
The Court of Session has backed a decision to allow asylum housing provider Serco to carry out lockchange evictions without a legal challenge.
The ruling effectively means that around 150 refugees in the city are now at risk of being made street homeless in the cold of winter, setting a precedent for hundreds more.
The appeal, brought forward by solicitor Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, was heard in September after a ruling earlier this year on the legality of the practice. Mr Dailly, who represents Shakar Ali, in whose name the case was brought, has said the reality of people being made street homeless by a Home Office contractor is ‘inhumane’.
He added: “I think this is a truly sad day for human rights law in Scotland. The effect of today’s ruling is that the UK Government can outsource its statutory and international legal obligations as a private company.
“Scotland’s highest civil court has ruled that Scotland’s asylum seekers can be evicted without the need to go to court.
“How does that fit with a modern, progressive, outward-looking, 21st century Scotland? What does it say to the international community?
“What is going to happen to several hundred people in Glasgow? We can’t, approaching winter, have 300-plus people turfed out onto the streets, it is just inhumane.”
Charities and campaigners supporting at-risk asylum seekers in Glasgow have condemned the decision, claiming it creates a system of ‘housing apartheid’.
Robina Qureshi, of Positive Action in Housing, said: “What it has done is to legally institute a form of housing apartheid in Glasgow, where one side of our community have their housing and human rights upheld, yet another very vulnerable community can be dragged from their homes at any time and turfed out into the streets.
“Serco and other asylum landlords now have carte blanche and the freedom to do this.
“We had hoped that a positive decision would give inspiration to other campaigns across the UK. But the fight does not stop here. We are ready for it.”
Sabir Zazai, chief executive at Scottish Refugee Council, added: “This galling verdict leaves hundreds of men and women in Glasgow at risk of lock-change evictions and immediate street homelessness.
“People are very anxious and very stressed. People have no options. On top of this, there is already a homelessness crisis in Glasgow that this decision will only contribute to.”
In July 2018, Serco announced it would seek to remove asylum seekers from their homes using lock-changes, with around 300 people affected.
While many have now progressed their legal cases, and Serco have lost the contract to provide such housing, around 150 people remain under their care and at risk.
Serco’s Julia Rogers said: “We have listened to the public concerns that the process to take back the properties they were living in might be unfair or illegal, but we now have clear judgements from Scotland’s highest court that our approach is completely proper and within the law.
“We will be working with the authorities and the Sheriffs Court in Glasgow to ensure an orderly sensitive application of the law. Serco would not seek to remove more than 20 people in any one week from their properties.”